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Why the Date of Your Separation Matters

Jeffers Law Office Oct. 4, 2023

Many couples do not realize how important the date of separation is when breaking up or divorcing. In many cases, married couples who go through rough times do not file for divorce or legal separation immediately. In fact, it is not uncommon for spouses to live apart for years before they finally file a petition for divorce or legal separation.  

The date of separation can play a crucial role in the outcome of the divorce as it can impact how the couple’s assets and debts are divided and may even affect spousal support, child support, or child custody. In many cases, the assistance of a skilled attorney may be necessary to determine the date of separation. The attorney at Jeffers Law Office helps clients pursue legal separation and divorce in Overland Park, Kansas, and other parts of Johnson County, including Leawood, Shawnee, Olathe, and Lenexa.  

The Date of Separation 

In some cases, married couples may choose to remain legally married and pursue legal separation instead of filing a petition for divorce to dissolve their marriage. Legal separation is often viewed as the best option for couples who have hopes for reconciliation in the foreseeable future.  

Regardless of whether the couple pursues legal separation or divorce, it is essential to determine the date of separation. As the name implies, the date of separation is the date when the spouses became separated as a married couple. Many couples mistakenly believe that one spouse moving out of the house is enough to make them “separated” in the eyes of the law. In reality, many other factors come into play when determining the date of separation.  

Date of Separation & Legal Implications 

The date of separation can have several legal implications for legal separation and divorce. In particular, it can affect: 

  • Property division. Courts use the date of separation when classifying marital and separate property for the purpose of property division. Anything either spouse had before the date of marriage and after the date of separation is generally considered separate property, while all the assets acquired during the marriage are marital property. The same can be said about debts. If the couple is still married and one of the spouses accrues debt after the separation date, it will most likely be solely that spouse’s responsibility to repay the debt.  

  • Spousal support. The date of separation is also considered when awarding alimony, which is also known as spousal support in Kansas. Often, one spouse owes support to the other from the date of separation.  

  • Child custody and support. The date of separation may also be the date when the non-custodial parent begins making child support payments. While the separation date may not be as relevant in child custody cases, the court may still consider it when making decisions regarding custody and parenting time.  

Every couple’s circumstances are unique, which is why the legal implications of the date of separation may differ from one case to another.  

How To Determine the Date of Separation? 

Often, couples can agree on the date of separation among themselves. However, if no agreement can be reached, it will be up to the court to make that determination. The judge will usually consider the following facts when determining the separation date:  

  • The date a spouse moved out. The most obvious factor to consider is the date when the spouses stopped living together.  

  • The date when the spouses stopped acting like a couple. Even if one spouse moves out, the couple may still continue sleeping together, going on dates, and doing other things as a couple. For this reason, the court will consider the date when the spouses stopped acting like a couple.  

  • The date when the spouses took separate financial/legal actions. Such actions may include closing a joint bank account and opening an individual one, updating an estate plan to exclude your spouse, and contacting an attorney to discuss legal separation or divorce, to name a few.  

You might want to contact an attorney if you and your spouse cannot agree on the date of separation. The legal separation attorney at Jeffers Law Office can evaluate the unique facts in your case to help you determine the separation date.   

Your Rights Through Separation 

As you can see, the date of separation plays a critical role in your legal separation or divorce case. If you would like to learn more about the legal implications of the separation date or need help determining when that date occurred, contact Jeffers Law Office. Reach out to Attorney Mark Jeffers today to request a free initial telephone consultation and discuss your situation.